Our Catastrophic Failure of Jihad Denial
Stephen Coughlin reveals the terrifying extent of the blindfolding of America in the terror war.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
An outraged nation watched on September 11 as a handful of Muslim terrorists managed to kill thousands of Americans in one of the worst attacks in our history. Answers were demanded and commissions were established to investigate why we failed to prevent the attack.
Why didn’t we know that it was coming? Why didn’t we do something?
It’s still a good question as the number of attacks mount. But under Obama, we actually know less about Islamic terrorism than we used to.
While thousands of Americans died on that terrible day at the hands of Islamic terrorists, thousands of other Americans stepped forward to do their duty. Some brought sandwiches to Ground Zero. Others enlisted in the military to fight. Still others sought unique ways to use their special talents to make a contribution to combating the enemies of civilization.
Stephen Coughlin was a reserve Army officer called up to active duty. He left the private sector for the Directorate for Intelligence. For the next six years he worked in a variety of key roles to shape and orient the war and spoke about the threat of Islamic terrorism everywhere from Quantico to the Naval War College so that those on the front lines of the conflict would understand who the enemy was.
Then he was forced out because he was too good at pointing out the enemy. And the enemy had gotten inside. It would bore deeper and deeper into our national security infrastructure as the years and the wars dragged on.
But the government’s loss is our gain.
“Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad” is Coughlin’s vigorous blast of fresh air through the stale clichés that clutter up counterterrorism conversations. You know the ones. Offending Islam plays into the hands of the terrorists. Mentioning that Al Qaeda is Islamic plays into the hands of the terrorists. Doing anything except playing the denial game also plays into the hands of the terrorists.
“Catastrophic Failure” conveys the information that Coughlin packaged in briefings to the men and women fighting the war. It is the outcome of his work, his briefings and his research. It is why he was fired.
As one of the leading experts in what the terrorists of Islam actually think and want, Stephen Coughlin not only shatters this brass wall of dishonesty, but shows that the real threat comes from the concealment of whom the terrorists we are fighting are and what they really want.
Coughlin’s conviction in analysis took him on this Diogenesian journey for the truth. He was not the only one traveling this road, discarding the excuses and the lies, striving to see clearly what was happening and why. And yet his position so close to the heart of the great failure machine of national security gives him a unique insight into what has gone wrong and into what must be set right.
That is what “Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad” is. It is an analysis of what has gone wrong. Its cover of an eagle wearing a green blindfold all too aptly captures the tragic farce of our fight against terrorism. But it is also a compelling argument about what we must do.
Instead of seeing the threats the bird of prey tasked with our national defense has been hooded in green. He sits tamely on the arm of the Muslim Brotherhood falconer. Our government has responded to Muslim terror by seeking out Muslim moderates to save us from the extremists. But the moderates are not moderate. And working so close to the machine, Coughlin saw how the need to win over moderates, to consult them and rely on them, led to the shift in power as they created the framework in which decisions were made.
Counterterrorism was increasingly being made in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The great struggle of our time is to flip that framework over and restore the power of decision for this war to Americans. Coughlin is a powerful writer and thinker, and he has poured his passion into these arguments that are meant to accomplish just that. He knows Islamic thought and law, and their real life implications, but his background has also prepared him to present focused laser blasts of information to audiences. His key goal and theme has been the importance of knowing the enemy.
“Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad” is a text of knowledge. It is a book about the importance of knowing the enemy so that we may know the war that we are in.
Coughlin draws us a map of the Islamic organizational war against civilization “unconstrained” by the usual preconceptions about moderates and extremists. Instead he shows us who the enemy is by showing us how they think and how they see themselves. He connects the red dots of the Islamic Movement and the road to the Caliphate which is being pursued by far more Muslim groups than just the overt butchers of ISIS whose lack of patience leads them to act before they can sustain their Jihad.
“Catastrophic Failure” is not merely a book about Islamic terrorism. It is about the core worldview of the struggle. It is about how the bombings, shootings and stabbings that we see on the evening news are rooted in an Islamic mindset that stretches from the proverbial “lone wolf” whose actions are blamed on psychiatric problems or a failure to integrate to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the rest of our so-called moderate allies and partners.
It is also about how our process, our ability to analyze and produce forecasts, and then to make decisions based on them, was corrupted by Islamic influence operations. It is about how the “eagle” was seduced with fantasies of moderate Islam by the enemies of this country. And it is about what must be done to lift the eagle’s blindfold and allow him to soar overhead again.
Stephen Coughlin has seen the profound failure of our national security up close. He saw what went wrong and equally importantly, he has seen what could have been if national security were oriented around our security instead of orbiting like a satellite around our impulses toward political correctness.
“Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad” is a valuable book because it reflects the invaluable experiences of its author. It is a story of three wars. The war that was. The war that is. And the war that will be. The motives and the tactics of the enemy have remained consistent in these wars. And that allows Coughlin to predict their patterns. The enemy will not suddenly turn moderate. The question that hangs over the war that will be is whether our leaders will open their eyes to the fight.